Government releases new tool that tracks environmental health impacts

The news: The Biden administration rolled out the Environmental Justice Index (EJI), a national tool to measure the impact of environmental factors like pollution on human health and health equity.

How it works: The index maps which communities will suffer the most risk from environmental hazards like air pollution.

It pulls data from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), US Mine Safety and Health Administration, and the US Census Bureau.

  • The EJI scores communities based on environmental justice and areas such as social vulnerability, environmental burden, and health vulnerability.
  • For example, the index can study how an environmental factor like pollution affects people with pre-existing conditions like asthma.
  • The EJI ranks census tracts based on 36 environmental, social, and health factors.
  • For context, EJI follows a similar geospatial mapping tool the White House released in beta in February to identify underserved areas affected by pollution.

Why it matters: Health equity is a serious problem, as populations have varying access to care. Providers and payers should be able to access the government’s data and gauge which areas face risk from pollution, a lack of clean water, and other environmental hazards.

  • As much as 80% of a person’s health outcomes come from social determinants of health (SDOH) elements like education, nutrition, access to transportation, and the environment.
  • More than 99% of physicians said at least a few of their patients are affected by at least one social determinant, according to a February 2022 survey from The Physicians Foundation.

Go deeper: Check out our Social Determinants of Health Investments report to learn how healthcare organizations are investing in SDOH.

This article originally appeared in Insider Intelligence's Digital Health Briefing—a daily recap of top stories reshaping the healthcare industry. Subscribe to have more hard-hitting takeaways delivered to your inbox daily.